For a long time now, I’ve had a passion for unique and elegant fashion pieces. In the past that meant having a wardrobe full of vintage pieces that I’d pair with high street finds, but these days my priorities have changed somewhat.
Thrift store or vintage store shopping has never been a particularly popular choice in Asia, and I’ve felt my style change in recent years because of that, not necessarily to more high street-based fashion choices but more towards simplicity. I’m on the road a lot and I pack light; I hate taking more than a carry-on but still like to look like me
This is where something as simple as a kimono (literally translated as ‘wearable thing’) comes in. There’s been a resurgence in traditional East Asian attire being made functional for the modern woman. From hanbok-style skirts, to qipao-style dresses. Another is the modern kimono.
It’s the perfect cover-up! Wearing something simple and using a kimono (which incidentally folds away to almost nothing) to brighten up my travel wardrobe has been a real travel hack of mine.
Hello, Oh Kimono
This is where Oh Kimono came in. I found Olivia Dejeu’s passion project by accident and haven’t looked back. I’ve actually just ordered my third kimono from her, and my original blue and red ones proved to be perfect companions on my recent trip to the Philippines.
Olivia Dejeu is a fashion & travel blogger/vlogger, currently traveling around the world. She tells her experiences while traveling and wants to inspire people to be their true selves and to chase their dreams.
I was very inspired by her story. Olivia manages her business while primarily on the road, and is also one of the loveliest people to boot. I caught up with her to ask about her motivations, inspirations, and a few words for aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Meet Olivia Dejeu
What inspired you to create Oh Kimono?
I had always had a passion for kimonos, ever since my first time traveling to Asia, but even beforehand, seeing them in photos.
This year I traveled to Vietnam and I fell in love with these patterns. I didn’t have any idea on how to grow a business, especially so spontaneously, but I was determined. Therefore I bought them from Vietnam; the lady who I bought them from was so happy.
Some of them are limited designs, so I bought, for example, about ten pieces of the one kimono. I took them with me in my travels, started my online business, and started selling on-the-go.
What’s next for you?
Now I am currently designing my own collection. It’s a step that I am now courageous enough to take, given that I can’t even sketch/draw, sew, etc. But I am learning. So this collection will reflect all my ideas on traveling and dreaming, which is what Oh Kimono is about. It will have different materials and I have in the works plans for a premium collection as well.
For me, kimonos are a way to dream. It’s not a standard piece of clothing, like a shirt or a blouse; it just gives charm and authenticity to an outfit.
My plans are to grow more. I have sold through Instagram since day one of launching; the power of social media nowadays is so big that I have taken full advantage of that. I hope that my kimonos will inspire other people, to chase their dreams and travel.
Any advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
I would say ignore what everyone else says and go for it. If you can imagine it, for sure you can do it. If you think of something you want to do, you should do it, even if you don’t know all the steps yet. Just take the first step (starting) and all the further steps will reveal themselves. It’s not easy; it’s hard work, day and night. But if it’s something you love, it will work out. Be courageous and brave and know what your goals are.
What’s your design process?
Currently, my design process is teaching myself how to sketch, learning about fabrics, it’s a whole process. I don’t have any mentors or someone in the field to help me out, so I’m figuring it out by myself right now.
My passion is to make women dream of something more and bring the elegance of Asia home to their wardrobes. Through my kimonos, I hope to inspire a sense of wanderlust and femininity that every woman should be proud to show.